More than 33,000 people have called for the UK to ban ear piercing for babies and toddlers via an online petition.
The petition, started by Susan Ingram, calls for a minimum legal age requirement for ear piercing.
It reads: “Make it illegal for babies/toddlers to get their ears pierced.
“It is a form of child cruelty. Severe pain and fear is inflicted upon infants unnecessarily.
“It serves no purpose other than to satisfy the parent's vanity. Other forms of physically harming children are illegal - this should be no different.”
The petition calls on Minister for Children, Edward Timpson, to take action. After less than a week, it has almost reached its target of 35,000 signatures.
One woman Claire M wrote: “Smacking a child is abuse, so how come sticking metal rods through their ears is not abuse?”
Another, Sandra, wrote: “It IS child abuse, pure and simple. If anyone put a piercing implement in any other part of a baby's body, arrest and prosecution should follow.
“It beggars belief the mums at immunisation clinics who hate the fact that their child needs an injection for good reason, when said child's ears are pierced.”
But not everyone agrees. On the site’s comments section, a woman called Dana C wrote:
“As someone who had their ears pierced as a baby (a month old), I find this campaign absolutely and utterly pointless. I am pleased that my parents got it done for me when I was a child and I have no regrets that they did.
“I suppose a lot of parents also don't like the idea of piercings, which is perhaps why they supported this campaign – that's fine, apply it to your own children, but the fact remains that it isn't a serious issue. And it's also not solely for cosmetic purposes – it can be a cultural tradition, too, as was the reason for me getting them.”
Another, JG, wrote: “Ear-piercing is a widely-accepted beautifying practice in the Western world and many other parts of the world.
“And MOST parents don't pierce their children's ears with malicious intent. They just want their children, usually daughters, to look pretty. The pain is fleeting and usually there are no complications.”